Monday, April 16, 2012

Immigration protesters balk at paying fine, charged with probation violation

Immigration protesters balk at paying fine, charged with probation violation

April 11, 2012 5:08 PM

GRAHAM — Three protesters found guilty last month of failure to disperse stemming from a 2009 protest outside the Alamance County jail were taken into custody and booked into the jail Wednesday.

Patrick M. O’Neill of Garner, Francisco Javier Risso of Morganton and Audrey B. Schwankl of Pittsboro turned themselves in to Graham police just after 2 p.m. Wednesday. They were among seven arrested in 2009 at the jail during a protest of the 287(g) immigration enforcement program, which allows sheriff’s deputies to act as federal officers in detaining and deporting illegal immigrants.

In a March trial, they were found guilty of failure to disperse. The judge in the case issued them a 10-day suspended sentence and ordered them to pay a $200 fine and court costs by April 9 and remain on 18 months’ unsupervised probation.

Risso and O’Neill both objected to paying the fines when they were sentenced. Schwankl wrote a letter to the Times-News saying she also objected to paying the fines and preferred to serve active time.

The three chose to violate their probation in hopes of serving an active sentence in solidarity with immigrants detained under the 287(g) program, who can’t pay a fine and be released from jail, O’Neill said Wednesday.

The three turned themselves in outside the Graham Police Department.

Orders for their arrest were issued Monday after they failed to pay the fines and court costs, a violation of their probation.

They are scheduled to appear in court next week on the charge of violating their probation.

The March jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on two other co-defendants who stood trial on the 2009 charges.



Hello Friends


Please write letters of support to Audrey Schwankl Alamance County Jail  109 S. Maple St. Graham, NC 27253. Send only letters or cards. No stamps or money. The three of us turned ourselves into Graham Police (see below) Wednesday.


This was prearranged with the police (who we are now our good friends). When the sergeant drove us to jail, he noted that it was the second time he had arrested us and still had never placed us in handcuffs. (We all got a good laugh out of that). Francisco and I were bailed out Thursday so Francisco can hopefully delay his sentence until his studies at Wake Forest University Divinity School are completed for the spring semester.


We all have to appear in District Court again Monday for a probation revocation hearing. Audrey opted to remain in jail and get it over with; I want to serve my time with Francisco. We expect to receive 10-day sentences in lieu of paying fines and court costs totaling more than $600 each.


This case is now in its fourth year!!!! We were initially arrested as the Alamance 7 back on April 8, 2009. If Francisco and I can, we hope to receive a continuance until late May, and do the jail time then, but there is no guarantee. We will keep you all posted.


Francisco and I were able to serve our night in jail together in a cellblock with 40 sets of bunk beds. (we got the last two top bunks) We met lots of good guys, and ate very bad food (I gave away my breakfast) Supper was two boloney (I gave away the boloney) sandwiches on white bread (Great mustard). Several of the inmates were familiar with our case, and almost all agreed with us about the mistreatment of immigrants in the county. One guy was in when I spent the night back in 2009 !!!!


Thank you for the ongoing prayers and support. In Peace, Patrick O’Neill




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